Creating a brand-new image featuring the renowned “aqua” effect is easier than you think – if you have proper tools. To create an icon from scratch, a professional, small and easy icon editor such as IconLover 5 (aha-soft.com) is all you really need.
For an instance, let us make an aqua-style icon for “Add”, a glass ball with a “plus” sign in it. To start, you’ll need to draw a circle of a chosen color. Select the color from the Color properties menu. Just so you know, you can always memorize a color by adding it to Custom Colors; this comes really handy if you need to draw a matching set of icons.
With the Transparency bar or by using one of the Transparency presets, set your new icon’s opacity. For this tutorial, the ball will be fully opaque. In the same way, you can specify background color; for simplicity’s sake, we’ll leave the background transparent for now.
To draw a circle of selected color, select the Filled Ellipse tool by clicking the Filled Ellipse button in the Tools menu, which is on the left of the drawing area. With the left mouse button down, move the mouse cursor within the drawing area to create an ellipse. The ellipse changes its size as you move the mouse. To create an ideal circle, hold Shift while drawing. That’s it, you have just drawn a circle!
In order for our flat circle to start looking like a crystal ball, we’ll need to add some special effects. There are tons of those built into IconLover! You can add shadows, gradients, transparency masks, and of course, the famous ‘glass reflection’ look employed by the aqua effect.
To make an icon matching Apple’s Aqua style, you’ll need to draw a reflection and a shadow to the circle. This can be done quite easily by simply selecting Aqua from the Effects menu. Just keep all sliders at their defaults for now, and you’ll get a beautiful shiny sphere as a result.
Now let’s add an artist’s touch and make your icon truly unique. Go back to that Aqua dialog and have a carefull look at the properties. There are plenty of values available to tweak, allowing you to design something never seen before. Go ahead and tweak the sliders to see how your icon can look!
As a final touch, let’s add some dimension to your newly created icon. While glowing and shiny, it still looks more like a button rather than a crystal ball. Let’s fix that by throwing a drop-down shadow! To add a shadow effect to the icon, click “Drop shadow” from the Effects menu. You can use the defaults, or tweak the values around to get a flat button, a lens, or a ball. The look depends on the size of the shadow, its distance from the subject, and the angle at which it falls to the ground.
To add the ‘plus’ sign into the icon, click on the Text tool icon in the left Tools menu or press “T” to get the text properties window. Make sure the “Image transparency” box is selected. This means that your text will not be transparent, only the area around it will be. Tweaking the “Use semi-transparency” setting gets your text the same level of transparency your primary color has. Type “+”, and you’ll get the ‘plus’ sign embedded into the ball.
That’s it! You’ve just created a crystal ball that appears to be in the famous Aqua style! All you needed was a professional icon editor, IconLover 5, a few mouse clicks and a few minutes of your time. Easy!